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You can take Smith out of Storytelling, but you can’t take storytelling out of Smith

The building at 109 E. Main St. in the historic district has a new tenant with a familiar face for many Jonesborough residents.
After having his office at the International Storytelling Center for years as the organization president and CEO, Jimmy Neil Smith, who retired from the ISC at the end of 2012, is now renting his own office space just down the street from his old stomping grounds.
Smith moved into the former Black Hawk Realty office at the first of the year and is busy equipping and decorating an office he says is still in a state of transition.
“When you walk away from something you’ve been involved in for almost 40 years, there’s a sense of sadness,” Smith said. “At the same time, there is great enthusiasm for the new life that I will have.”
The new life to which Smith refers is still a bit undefined, he said, although one thing is certain — his work going forward will still have storytelling at the heart of it.
“I’ll be staying in storytelling, doing some things that were impossible to do in my former life,” Smith said. “I will be doing things that are complementary to things the ISC is doing and will be doing in the future, as well as the other entities in the storytelling world. Anything I do will be supporting and uplifting to the storytelling movement.”
One of the projects Smith has recently been involved with is an international storytelling outreach to Comoros, a small island nation off the northeast coast of Africa.
The project, funded through a $75,000 grant from the United States Department of State, was obtained through the ISC and is designed to “build bridges of understanding around the world.”
Smith is heading up the project, working in connection with the ISC, but as an independent agent.
“We met with a delegation from Comoros in Atlanta recently and we’re looking forward to getting started,” Smith said.
Smith and his team will be working with the National Museum of Comoros to start a community storytelling program in their country.
He will be making a trip to Comoros later this spring instead of in February as originally planned, Smith said, to avoid the region’s cyclone season, which runs through the end of May.